Cloudy Visions for Small Business

"Cloud" has been an IT buzzword for small business for a while now. According to this 2010 Spiceworks study on SMB Cloud Adoption, 24 percent of SMB IT professionals are already using the cloud—or planning a move to it. But there's no one-size-fits-all usage model for cloud services.

So how do you determine whether the cloud is right for your business? A recent article in the New York Times on cloud migration outlined some considerations for small businesses considering the cloud, including:

Will your cloud-based applications work the way you want them to?

Online versions of software programs may offer fewer features or less flexibility. However, they may also be easier to use since configuration is minimal.

How much will it cost in the long run?

The pay-as-you-go model of cloud services is appealing, especially for small businesses with cash flow concerns. However, you may end up paying more over time by using cloud-based applications compared to a one-time software purchase expense. Though as any IT-savvy business owner knows, software also needs to be upgraded over time. By using a cloud-based application, you'll always have the latest and greatest tools.

How good is your Internet connection?

Cloud-based apps are great if you and your employees need access to tools and data from different computers and devices. However, if you do not always have fast, reliable Internet access or if you frequently transfer large files, the cloud becomes less convenient. And who knew that Internet speeds varied so widely by region? If you live in the Ocean State, you're in luck...if you're in the Gem State, not so much.

How safe is your data? And how much of it do you have?

Many small businesses who have embraced web-based applications like email and calendaring aren't comfortable moving all of their data storage to the cloud. And it may be cost-prohibitive to do so, depending on how much data you have.

I recently talked to people at a small business in Portland, Oregon who had moved a good chunk of their IT tools to the cloud—but also recently invested in an on-premise server. They loved the accessibility of cloud-hosted applications like QuickBooks and Microsoft Office, yet found that it was much faster (and much less expensive) to store their data onsite. Take a look at the attached case study for more of their thoughts—and, of course, talk to your local Intel® Technology Provider about the best solution for your IT needs!